Interviews can be very stressful because all of the attention is focused on you! You are under the microscope! Every interview you have will be different from the last and the questions interviewers ask vary as well. However, it is helpful for job applicants to prepare for the interview by imagining different questions that an interviewer may ask and coming up with general ideas on how to answer it.
A tough, generic interview question that many people come across is “What are your weaknesses?’ It seems against your natural instinct to talk badly about yourself in an interview where you are trying to make yourself look good. Don’t let this question trick you into divulging your honest thoughts like “I procrastinate” or “I get distracted easily.” In fact, take this question as an opportunity to speak highly about yourself. Try to answer the question with a positive trait that you conceal as a negative quality, but be as genuine as possible. For example, you could talk about a weakness that you have overcome in previous experiences. “In the past I have struggled to delegate duties to other workers because I always feel as though I will do the best job. This has led to me into stressful situations when I am overwhelmed with work and I have not be able to perform as well as I wanted, due to the work load. I have overcome this weakness by taking classes on management of time and I have learned to evaluate other people’s strengths and assigned relevant duties to the most responsible parties. I continue to strive to be as efficient as possible in the work place.”
It is crucial that your weakness is in no way part of the job description!
You definitely don’t want to answer the question in a way that leaves the interviewer feeling like you didn’t answer the question. It is encouraged that an applicant sounds genuine, because we all have weaknesses, and not as though they are sucking up. Don’t say that you are a workaholic who doesn’t like to take time off or that you are a perfectionist who never makes mistakes. Make sure that you don’t make yourself look too bad either though by saying real personal weaknesses that could easily be a deal breaker, i.e. that you are an alcoholic who comes to work late.
Focus on a weakness that you have already overcome or that you are currently working on overcoming. Examples include, “I’m not the most organized person, but I am learning organizational skills and utilizing to-do lists, a day planner, and desk organization tools” or “I used to be very uncomfortable speaking in public, but I voluntarily signed up for a debate team and although it was very uncomfortable at first, I have learned to speak confidently in front of an audience. When I have a speech or presentation coming up, I usually practice in order to feel as comfortable as possible. Although I still get nervous at times, I do not let that nervousness disrupt my presentation whatsoever, in fact, I think being a little nervous helps me to do my best.”
If all else fails, find a weakness that you haven’t worked on yet, that preferably wouldn’t be part of the job you are applying to, and state what you can think of to improve, even if you haven’t done it yet.
If you can’t think of anything major weakness, report only a minor on, that even if it doesn’t make you look better, it should be one that won’t hurt how you appear to the interviewer.
Don’t mention that you are free of weaknesses. Some interviewers may feel like you are refusing to answer the question. Play into their silly game and tell them what they want to hear. In general, be honest, genuine, and think before you speak!
“Job Interview Questions & Answers.” Job Interviews | Job Interview Questions | Job Interview Strategies. Web. 04 Feb. 2010.
“Job Interview Weakness.” CollegeGrad.com. Web. 04 Feb. 2010.